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User research: turning good apps into great

User research: turning good apps into great

It is now unequivocally agreed that good user experience plays the most important role in building a great app. This is why doing extensive user research is more significant than ever before. Deep user research, leading to great UX benefits, can help to deliver a successful app. 

Why doing user research is crucial for mobile app development

Let's begin by explaining the key ways which user research can impact app development. From helping to land on a perfect vision about the software product to assessing impacts on monetisation and business conversion, user research plays the mission-critical role behind design and development decisions.

It is best to take user feedback by rolling out a particular product prototype and try to understand the user preferences. Doing user research on product prototypes can help development in 3 principal ways.

Creating user-focused design

When you undertake user research, you are agreeing to take an empathetic view of the user reactions. The intent is to make design that people will love and fondly interact with.

  • When designing, you can go into a granular-level understanding of user activities and how they try to interact with your interface and what are the key obstacles that can be removed to make the user experience better.
  • You can also user feedback into consideration, based on their real-world communication.
  • You also can test prototypes with users in different situations to get a more detailed and exhaustive view of perspectives.
  • Lastly, you need to give the project to a design team which has a solid track record in customer-focused and empathetic design.

Developing mobile app features that are easy to use and fun

Another crucial thing that prototype testing does is to evaluate each and every app feature, and their merit in terms of objectives and overall experiences. You never can design and build a great product without understanding the user preferences of key features.

This requires knowing your audience.

  • What are the demographics of your users? This includes knowing their age, gender, socio-economic class, locations, cultural attributes, etc.
  • What kind of environment they work in?
  • What are their leisure and entertainment habits?
  • How frequently they browse new apps?
  • What kind of apps they mostly use?

All these insights will help you to build an app that fits to user needs and preferences. One thing that you must keep in mind is that all users don't have the same level of expertise and so your app must be designed and built to cater to the ways users are comfortable with.

Evaluate the ROI potential of the app

Finally, the user research also helps you evaluate the potential of your app in generating revenue. Your app design and features must work together in a complementary way to engage users and make them take actions that lead to business conversion. The features must directly relate to the specific user needs and the design must help them to access the features and get away with their requirements as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

In this respect, for a design to stand out, it must be consistent in terms of branding while being visually impressive and engaging. The design and the features also have to be highly scalable and future-ready so they can evolve with business volume and traffic without diluting the branding and UX elements.

The UX rules of product development

Now, we need to ask some elementary questions concerning the UX rules of app development. Key questions may include:

  • What problems will app solve?
  • For whom you are going to solve the problem?
  • What will be the parameters to measure the success of your problem-solving?
  • What are the key problems that you need to give priority?

As you conceptualise the product, over time slowly all these questions are answered. You need to think of yourself as a user and accordingly try to approach each of these question as one. While approaching key questions as a user you also need to consider that all your users don't have the expertise and knowledge like you and so, you need to think of coming with solutions from the perspectives of common people who doesn't know much about the app world.

Once you get away with the primary questions and considerations, you need to consider the entire landscape of ideas and possibilities corresponding to your app's concept. Think of other app ideas out there. Think of other competitive and complementary offerings that you can unfold for the users over time. For example, when every online furniture app is focussed on selling their products, you can allow users to recreate the room with their preferred furniture and view it on-screen with the help of AR.

Who are we solving the problem for?

The most important aspect of turning a great idea into a successful app is to focus on the users continuously throughout the process of development starting with the app concept to prototyping to design and development to post-development support and upgrades.

This is why you need to figure out your ideal users who vary from being most accepting to your app idea to the marginally and infrequently involved ones. For example, if you are rolling out a food app focused on helping people cook healthy foods, you are likely to have a very neat target user group who will appreciate your app most and will frequently return to it. This user group mainly consists of people who are tremendously conscious about healthy food habits and ingredients. They will instantly appreciate your simple recipes and organic food suggestions.

On the second tier, you have the users who frequently give new recipes and ingredients a try in spite being obnoxiously gourmet food lovers. There will also be a third tier of users who have an interest in experiments with cooking and ingredients of different types.

Every app deals with these 3 groups of intended users having various degrees of engagement and commitment. When an app can address these different users in proportion to their commitment and engagement, they are likely to enjoy better and louder resonance. User research is key to finding these 3 different user groups for your app.

Quantitative user research methods for apps

When it comes to user research methods, quantitative research methods are considered as more powerful and effective as they deliver specific and convincing numbers for developers and strategists to decide upon. Qualitative research mainly concerns key questions for knowing users. Each of these qualitative research areas are substantiated by quantitative figures and findings.

Here we are going to explain 4 key quantitative research methods that are used widely in mobile app research.

Online surveys are carried out to collect user feedback and crucial user data. A questionnaire is presented to the survey respondents and besides getting data through the answers to these questions, actual behaviour of the users is tracked and processed. Two of the key questions that online surveys ask the users include "What do they think of the app?" "What kind of value they get from the app?" Online surveys are highly cost-efficient user research technique that can grab a large pool of data from people from different parts of the globe. The only downside is the absence of any ways to contact respondent directly.

Behavioural analysis is the quantitative user research method to find out how the users actually use the app. This is carried out by installing specialised software. This user research method is effective to validate what the users say against what activities are done. The only downside is that it doesn't show specific user contexts and intentions.

Automated logging is another quantitative user research method to evaluate how users actually use the app. Automated logging helps with access to events. The only downside is that just like behavioural analysis it cannot give us insights about context or user intention.

Experience sampling is one of the widely adopted and popular user research methods. It engages the participants of the users with specific questions. By sending them messages with a question like "How does the user use our app?" or "What do they think about the app?", insights about specific user activity can be generated.


It is quite clear that more knowledge about the users and their in-app behaviour will lead  to better design and development decisions that consequently produce a better app. Any app maker must start with the motion that they know far too little about the users and it is user research that can only help them build an app which truly resonates with target users.

Atman Rathod is co-founder of CMARIX TechnoLabs Pvt. Ltd., a web and mobile app development company.

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